Dear Editor,

I have an autistic child. I am in the business of mental health, and education. I have an opportunity to use my son as a study subject. I think I should pay him for two reasons. One being I want to pay him for his time as a motivation to work with me. The second reason is I intend to use the results for commercial gain. I have a business  plan written around this activity. Can I write off what I pay him?

Jane Doe.


Dear Jane,

Me Tarzan, You Jane, CRA are the apes. 

Seriously, any reasonable business expense can be written off. If you are going to pay someone wages, or benefits in lieu of wages it has to be real. In other words there has to be a way to prove that the child actually provides commercial value. For instance a professional model gets paid for posing for pictures. There is not an official age when you can pay someone. Baby models get paid for their work. No one questions that because it fits within the mental space one sees as “Normal.” So in your case if you actually do the study, actually document the results of the study, and have a plan on how you are going to use this information to make money, either directly or indirectly, you can write it off. It has to be part of the business you are engaged in for the purpose of commercial gain. Here is another thought, if another professional asked to study your child, would you do it for free? Would you have to claim the income? Would the other person be able to claim the expense? The answer to all three is “yes.”

Your Editor.

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